"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life"

Father God, thank you for the love of the truth you have given me. Please bless me with the wisdom, knowledge and discernment needed to always present the truth in an attitude of grace and love. Use this blog and Northwoods Ministries for your glory. Help us all to read and to study Your Word without preconceived notions, but rather, let scripture interpret scripture in the presence of the Holy Spirit. All praise to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Please note: All my writings and comments appear in bold italics in this colour

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Nemtsov Murder Mastermind Named

The site of the murder of politician Boris Nemtsov, who was killed on Bolshoi Moskvoretsky Bridge in downtown Moscow
© Vladimir Astapkovich / Sputnik
Russia’s Investigative Committee has pressed final charges against the suspected murderers of prominent opposition figure Boris Nemtsov, including the hit’s suspected organizer Ruslan Mukhutdinov, currently at large and on the international wanted list.

The committee also said in the Tuesday statement that it plans to start a separate criminal probe against Mukhutdinov and a number of yet unidentified persons who could also have been involved in Nemtsov’s assassination.

Also on Tuesday, investigators pressed final charges of a contract murder by an organized group and illegal purchase, possession and carrying of firearms against the four detained suspects. They said that the suspects’ complicity in the killing had been confirmed by over 70 forensic experiments, testimonies of witnesses, CCTV records and many documents seized at the suspects’ places of residence.

The law enforcers added that the lawyers representing the prosecution and the defense would receive all case materials in January.

Earlier, Russian mass media revealed Mukhutdinov as the primary suspect in Nemtsov’s killing on these grounds he had been put on the Russian federal and international wanted lists. One of the suspected killers, Zaur Dadaev, reportedly told investigators that the murder was revenge for Nemtsov’s “negative comments on Muslims and Islam,” in particular, the public condemnation of Islamists who killed the journalists from the Charlie Hebdo magazine in France. However, a short time later Dadaev retracted his testimony. The other suspects denied any involvement in the case.

In comments on the Investigative Committee’s statement, the lawyer representing Nemtsov’s family said he disagreed with the main conclusion.

“Mukhutdinov is just one of the organizers and he is one on the lowest rank. He only used to work as a driver for [one of the suspects] Ruslan Geremeyev,” he told RIA Novosti.

A defense lawyer representing Zaur Dadaev told Kommersant radio that the charges against Mukhutdinov were “unfounded” and added that he and his client intended to demand a trial by jury. Russia allows jury trials in cases where the maximum punishment is 10 years or more. The final verdict is still made by the judge, but it cannot be harsher than the one passed by the jury.

Boris Nemtsov was a regional governor and a deputy PM under President Boris Yeltsin. In recent years he had turned into an opposition politician occupying a seat in the legislature of central Russia’s Yaroslavl Region.

In February this year Nemtsov was shot dead while crossing the Bolshoi Moskvoretsky Bridge, near the Moscow Kremlin. The assassination prompted a thousands-strong march in the Russian capital, with demands to find and punish the killers.

President Putin personally promised in a public address that everything would be done to punish those responsible for the organization and execution of the murder.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Behind the Pentagon’s Doctored Ledgers, $ Trillions in Waste

This report is actually a couple years old but so astonishing I had to post it
By Scot J. Paltrow  
Filed November 18, 2013
MILES OF AISLES: At the Defense Logistics Agency's giant storage facility outside Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, lack of reliable information on what's there makes it hard to throw out excess inventory. REUTERS/TIM SHAFFER
Part 2: For two decades, the U.S. military has been unable to submit to an audit, flouting federal law and concealing waste and fraud totaling billions of dollars

LETTERKENNY ARMY DEPOT, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania - Linda Woodford spent the last 15 years of her career inserting phony numbers in the U.S. Department of Defense’s accounts.

Every month until she retired in 2011, she says, the day came when the Navy would start dumping numbers on the Cleveland, Ohio, office of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, the Pentagon’s main accounting agency. Using the data they received, Woodford and her fellow DFAS accountants there set about preparing monthly reports to square the Navy’s books with the U.S. Treasury’s - a balancing-the-checkbook maneuver required of all the military services and other Pentagon agencies.

And every month, they encountered the same problem. Numbers were missing. Numbers were clearly wrong. Numbers came with no explanation of how the money had been spent or which congressional appropriation it came from. “A lot of times there were issues of numbers being inaccurate,” Woodford says. “We didn’t have the detail … for a lot of it.”

The data flooded in just two days before deadline. As the clock ticked down, Woodford says, staff were able to resolve a lot of the false entries through hurried calls and emails to Navy personnel, but many mystery numbers remained. For those, Woodford and her colleagues were told by superiors to take “unsubstantiated change actions” - in other words, enter false numbers, commonly called “plugs,” to make the Navy’s totals match the Treasury’s.

Jeff Yokel, who spent 17 years in senior positions in DFAS’s Cleveland office before retiring in 2009, says supervisors were required to approve every “plug” - thousands a month. “If the amounts didn’t balance, Treasury would hit it back to you,” he says.

After the monthly reports were sent to Treasury, the accountants continued to seek accurate information to correct the entries. In some instances, they succeeded. In others, they didn’t, and the unresolved numbers stood on the books.

At the DFAS offices that handle accounting for the Army, Navy, Air Force and other defense agencies, fudging the accounts with false entries is standard operating procedure, Reuters has found. And plugging isn’t confined to DFAS (pronounced DEE-fass). Former military service officials say record-keeping at the operational level throughout the services is rife with made-up numbers to cover lost or missing information.

A review of multiple reports from oversight agencies in recent years shows that the Pentagon also has systematically ignored warnings about its accounting practices. “These types of adjustments, made without supporting documentation … can mask much larger problems in the original accounting data,” the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, said in a December 2011 report.

Plugs also are symptomatic of one very large problem: the Pentagon’s chronic failure to keep track of its money - how much it has, how much it pays out and how much is wasted or stolen.

This is the second installment in a series in which Reuters delves into the Defense Department’s inability to account for itself. The first article examined how the Pentagon’s record-keeping dysfunction results in widespread pay errors that inflict financial hardship on soldiers and sap morale. This account is based on interviews with scores of current and former Defense Department officials, as well as Reuters analyses of Pentagon logistics practices, bookkeeping methods, court cases and reports by federal agencies.

As the use of plugs indicates, pay errors are only a small part of the sums that annually disappear into the vast bureaucracy that manages more than half of all annual government outlays approved by Congress. The Defense Department’s 2012 budget totaled $565.8 billion, more than the annual defense budgets of the 10 next largest military spenders combined, including Russia and China. How much of that money is spent as intended is impossible to determine.

And we thought Russia and China had corruption problems. Good grief!

In its investigation, Reuters has found that the Pentagon is largely incapable of keeping track of its vast stores of weapons, ammunition and other supplies; thus it continues to spend money on new supplies it doesn’t need and on storing others long out of date. It has amassed a backlog of more than half a trillion dollars in unaudited contracts with outside vendors; how much of that money paid for actual goods and services delivered isn’t known. And it repeatedly falls prey to fraud and theft that can go undiscovered for years, often eventually detected by external law enforcement agencies.

The consequences aren’t only financial; bad bookkeeping can affect the nation’s defense. In one example of many, the Army lost track of $5.8 billion of supplies between 2003 and 2011 as it shuffled equipment between reserve and regular units. Affected units “may experience equipment shortages that could hinder their ability to train soldiers and respond to emergencies,” the Pentagon inspector general said in a September 2012 report.

AT SEA: Since 2000, the Navy has spent more than $1 billion to upgrade its record-keeping, but it still lacks the ability to account for ships, submarines and other physical assets. REUTERS/HO NEW
Because of its persistent inability to tally its accounts, the Pentagon is the only federal agency that has not complied with a law that requires annual audits of all government departments. That means that the $8.5 trillion in taxpayer money doled out by Congress to the Pentagon since 1996, the first year it was supposed to be audited, has never been accounted for. That sum exceeds the value of China’s economic output last year.

Congress in 2009 passed a law requiring that the Defense Department be audit-ready by 2017. Then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in 2011 tightened the screws when he ordered that the department make a key part of its books audit-ready in 2014.

Reuters has found that the Pentagon probably won’t meet its deadlines. The main reason is rooted in the Pentagon’s continuing reliance on a tangle of thousands of disparate, obsolete, largely incompatible accounting and business-management systems. Many of these systems were built in the 1970s and use outmoded computer languages such as COBOL on old mainframes. They use antiquated file systems that make it difficult or impossible to search for data. Much of their data is corrupted and erroneous.

“It’s like if every electrical socket in the Pentagon had a different shape and voltage,” says a former defense official who until recently led efforts to modernize defense accounting.

There is lots more on this file here.

Another Journalist Murdered in Turkey - 3rd in 3 Months

Syrian journalist & filmmaker who exposed ISIS Aleppo atrocities assassinated in Turkey

Just Days Before Taking Asylum in France
Naji Jerf © Naji Jerf / Facebook
A prominent Syrian journalist and filmmaker, who produced anti-Islamic State documentaries was gunned down by unknown assailants in broad daylight in Gaziantep, Turkey. This is the third assassination of a journalist in the country over the last three months.

Naji Jerf, editor-in-chief of the Hentah monthly, known for his documentaries describing violence and abuses on Islamic State-controlled territories (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) was shot and killed near a building housing Syrian independent media outlets in the Turkish city of Gaziantep. His death was originally reported by a group of citizen journalists he was working with.

Jerf recently completed a documentary investigating violence and crime in the IS-held parts of Aleppo for the RBSS group ["Raqa is Being Slaughtered Silently"]. The film won a Committee to Protect Journalists’(CPJ) International Press Freedom Award in November.

According to reports, he was hit by a bullet in the head as he was walking in the street. He was taken to hospital, where he died. The attack happened in front of security cameras nearby, according to Turkish news outlet T24 website.

A friend of Jerf's has told AFP the journalist was "supposed to arrive in Paris this week after receiving, along with his family, a visa for asylum in France."

The Brussels-based European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has said in a statement for RT that “the EFJ strongly calls on Turkish authorities to step up measures to protect Syrian journalists and media workers based in Turkey.”

“The EFJ notes that this killing comes after Islamic State claimed responsibility for the deaths of the executive director and the head of the production department for a Syrian media collective, in Urfa, in October. It seems clear to us that Syrian journalists and media workers who have fled to Turkey are not safe at all,” the statement stressed.

CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator Sherif Mansour said "Syrian journalists who have fled to Turkey for their safety are not safe at all," recalling several Syrian journalists as well as prominent Turkish opposition figures murdered in Turkey over the past months.

"We call on Turkish authorities to bring the killers of Naji Jerf to justice swiftly and transparently, and to step up measures to protect all Syrian journalists on Turkish soil," he added.

Earlier in November, president of the bar association and a campaigner for Kurdish rights, Tahir Elci was shot dead by unknown gunmen on a street in Diyarbakir in Kurdish-dominated southeastern Turkey. RT’s crew covering Kurdish protests following Elci’s murder was teargassed by the Turkish police while filming on the spot.

In October, two Syrian journalists, Ibrahim Abd al-Qader and Fares Hamadi – also an early member of RBSS group – were found slain in an apartment in the town of Urfa in southeastern Turkey.

Can Erimtan of the Istanbul Gazette has told RT the murderers might be “local supporters of Islamic State, given the fact they knew where to go and how to do their business.”

“As for the reason why this man [Naji Jerf] was targeted, he was working towards exposing the atrocities committed by Islamic State, and for that reason silencing him seemed like a fair option to them,” he said.

Erimtan added “there is a clear link between Islamic State and the Ankara government” and “[there is] a lot of ISIS activity in the country, [while] the authorities are either unwilling to take drastic measures [or are unaware] of what to do.”

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Hilarious Twitter Responses by Muslims to ISIS Urgent Plea

‘Maybe next week?’ Muslims troll ISIS’ ‘urgent’ call to arms on twitter

A file image grab taken from a propaganda video released on July 5, 2014 by al-Furqan Media allegedly shows the leader of the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, Abu Bakr el-Baghdadi, aka Caliph Ibrahim. © Al-Furqan Media / AFP

In a glaring rejection of Islamic State’s perverted vision of Islam, Muslims around the world have been mocking its call to arms with a barrage of hilarious comments since the terror group urged believers to “urgently” join the so-called “caliphate.”

In an audio message allegedly recorded by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed “caliph” of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), the terror leader spent some 24-minutes trying to convince its members that the group is feeling “better than ever” under increasing pressure from Russia and US-led airstrikes.

Anjum Rauf Meer @anjum_meer
I urgently call upon every Muslim to join in ridiculing Baghdadi and his group of idiots. https://twitter.com/iyad_elbaghdadi/status/680776223606333440 …
8:27 AM - 26 Dec 2015
  119 Retweets   114 likes

Constant bombings and a fire storm from above (Thank you, Russia) has only “toughened” the organization and helped cleanse it of those unworthy, he claimed. However, apparently suffering severe human resource losses, he called upon Muslims around the globe to “urgently” join the terror group’s cause and become new recruits.

‏@SalmanSoz Salman Anees Soz Retweeted Iyad El-Baghdadi
Sorry #ISIS. This Muslim is just waking up. Needs coffee. Also, it's Christmas weekend family time. Run along now.
  201 Retweets   222 likes

Quite predictably, it turned out that Muslims across the globe have many more exciting and urgent things to do. Rejecting the message IS has been attempting to spread and demonstrating that an overwhelming majority of Muslims follow Islam peacefully, hundreds laughed at Baghdadi’s message on social media.

Jay Zadeh @JayLikesIt
@iyad_elbaghdadi Sorry Amir al-Mushrikeen, I'm busy being a real Muslim, giving to charity etc. Also, your dental plan sucks. #GoatTeethISIS
9:27 AM - 27 Dec 2015
  2 Retweets   2 likes

potato head @ozzypotato
@iyad_elbaghdadi too busy being part of a civilised and functioning society.
7:22 AM - 27 Dec 2015
  Retweets   3 likes

An Emirati activist, Iyad el-Baghdadi, ironically also bearing the notorious name, received hundreds of funny and sarcastic responses after translating the terror group’s plea.

Emir Hamidović @xamidovic
@iyad_elbaghdadi damn dude.... I was on my way but then I saw the fuel prices. Send me money  for fuel and I'm on my way.
8:59 AM - 27 Dec 2015
   1 Retweet   likes

Some cited travel restrictions and busy airports during the holiday season as reasons they couldn’t leave for Syria or Iraq right away.

George Norman @HelloGeorgeN
@iyad_elbaghdadi Sorry dudes. Christmas week. Flights all booked.
12:07 PM - 26 Dec 2015
  Retweets    2 likes

radio_shak @radio_shak
Would do, but there's engineering work on the trains around London Bridge. Soz https://twitter.com/iyad_elbaghdadi/status/680776223606333440 …
9:19 AM - 26 Dec 2015
   95 Retweets    99 likes

Others said that joining a group of lunatics was a low priority for them compared to watching TV series on Netflix or going to the movies to check out the new episode of Star Wars.

Ali @sak485
But then how will I watch all the upcoming Star Wars movies? Also I don't like hanging with murderous psychopaths https://twitter.com/iyad_elbaghdadi/status/680776223606333440 …
9:59 AM - 26 Dec 2015
   46 Retweets   38 likes

Steven Hulme @HulmeSteven
@iyad_elbaghdadi @abzlove @vicky_fallon Bit busy watching "Abz on the Farm" on the iplayer, mate. Best of luck though, yeah?
11:57 AM - 27 Dec 2015
  Retweets   2 likes

Menna منّة @TheMiinz
Too busy doing some Netflix related things. https://twitter.com/iyad_elbaghdadi/status/680776223606333440 …
7:43 AM - 27 Dec 2015
   42 Retweets    48 likes

Reluctance to miss football matches or watch the UEFA Champions League final were other popular reasons to pass on the invitation.

Al @alfxy
Sorry bruv. Not until Liverpool wins the league. Then after that we have the Champions League. Raincheck?  https://twitter.com/iyad_elbaghdadi/status/680776223606333440 …
7:24 AM - 27 Dec 2015 · Ulu Langat, Selangor, Malaysia
   43 Retweets    36 likes

Some people wondered if IS could help them sort out urgent tasks first.

Dilshad Riaz Virk @DilshadRiaz
@iyad_elbaghdadi Ohh plz dude, not now. Very tight schedule these days.
5:25 AM - 27 Dec 2015
  Retweets    1 like

Authoritarian parents and college classes were also among the obstacles preventing potential recruits from rushing to join the “murderous psychopaths.”

george_smith@1975 @georgesmith1975
@iyad_elbaghdadi I've got a note from my mum saying I don't need to
12:04 PM - 27 Dec 2015
  Retweets   likes

Guidance of God @guidanceofgod
@iyad_elbaghdadi My dad said I have to be home by 8pm. Will we be done by then?
8:13 AM - 27 Dec 2015
  Retweets   likes

A sink full of unwashed dishes and taking a pet to a vet, along with other small chores and errands, forced others to take a rain check and wonder if the offer would still be valid “next week.”

Umar Aftab Butt @documaraftab
@iyad_elbaghdadi sorry. Saw the tweet late. Next week, maybe?
1:44 PM - 26 Dec 2015
   2 Retweets    5 likes

Swiss MP Fires Up Berliners on Islamization

Swiss member of Parliament, Oskar Freysinger, with a rousing and very un-Swiss-like speech, tells Berliners exactly what Islamization means to Europe.

The speech is 5 minutes long, it is interesting, at times humorous, and very well received by the German audience.

I certainly hope and pray that this speech does not inflame the violence being perpetrated against Germany's migrants. But I do hope it spurs governments across Europe to take action to mitigate the Islamization of their countries.

Certainly, Europeans and North Americans must help those in need. How can we look at ourselves in the mirror, or kneel before God with a clear conscience otherwise? 

But at the same time, how can we look at our grandchildren knowing that they are very likely to be living under Sharia law at some point in their lives? 

And how can we kneel before God with a clear conscience knowing that it is our fault that they cannot worship the Creator and Redeemer of the world without losing their heads?

Stones Thrown at Jerusalem Patriarch's Car as PA Crack Down on Radicals

Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem greeted in Bethlehem 
by hail of stones

PA reportedly arrests 16 ‘Salafi radicals’ who were planning to carry out terror attack against tourists celebrating Christmas


Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal attends Christmas celebrations in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2015. (FLASH90)Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal attends Christmas celebrations in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2015. (FLASH90)NEWSROOM

The car taking Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal, head of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land, was struck Friday, Christmas Day, in Bethlehem by rocks thrown by Palestinian rioters.

None of the passengers in the patriarch’s vehicle was injured in the incident, but his car sustained damage, according to a Ynet news report.

Clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian demonstrators erupted following his departure from the city, known as the birthplace of Jesus, the news site said.

Meanwhile, Palestinian security forces said Friday that they arrested two suspected Islamic radicals for burning a Christmas tree in the northern West Bank.

A Palestinian security officer said Friday the suspects set fire Wednesday to the tree in Zababdeh, a village near Jenin populated mainly by Christians. The officer spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to reporters.

He said both suspects were under investigation for possible ties to extremist Islamist groups.

He also said Palestinian security forces arrested Wednesday about a dozen suspected radical Islamists in Bethlehem.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (L) attends a Christmas Midnight Mass at the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on December 25, 2015. (AFP PHOTO/ Fadi Arouri)

A report in the Palestinian Ma’an news agency put the number of detainees at 16. According to the report, the group are Salafi radicals who were preparing to carry out a terror attack against Western tourists arriving in Bethlehem to celebrate Christmas there.

The report did not identify the detainees as being affiliated with any known jihadist groups.

It is a positive development that the Palestinian Authority are arresting terrorists of all persuasion. If they have been doing this all along, it is the first I have heard of it. It may be self-serving in protecting the lucrative Christian tourism industry, especially at Christmas, but regardless, it is a good thing for Israel.

A report in the Hebrew-language daily Ma’ariv said that senior PA officials met in Bethlehem earlier this week in order to formulate a strategy against the threat posed by extremists to the Christian celebrations in the city.

At least four people are being held in detention without trial in Bethlehem and four others, supporters of Islamic State, were arrested elsewhere in the West Bank. It was not clear where eight other people were being held.

On Thursday night, PA President Mahmoud Abbas and the authority’s prime minister, Rami Hamdallah, participated in a midnight mass at Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, Ma’an reported.

In a statement released by his office before the visit, Abbas praised Palestinian Christians for their role in creating a “rich and diverse society.” (Not to mention a lot of tourist dollars).

“This year, we witnessed more churches around the world supporting the call for recognition of the State of Palestine, and an increasing number of Christian groups campaigning to divest from companies that profit from the Israeli occupation of our land,” Abbas said.

The Christian Palestinian population dwindled significantly over the past years. Christians today make only 2 percent of the Palestinian population in the West Bank.

AP contributed to this report.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

52 Year old Father of 7 Decides He's a 6 Year Old Girl

Caution: this could ruin your Christmas
If you have the misfortune of believing that there is any hope for this world, this could completely destroy it

'I've gone back to being a child': Husband and father-of-seven, 52, leaves his wife and kids to live as a transgender SIX-YEAR-OLD girl named Stefonknee


A Canadian man who was married, with seven kids, has left his family in order to fulfill his true identity - as a six-year-old girl.

In an emotional video with gay news site The Daily Xtra in collaboration with The Transgender Project, Stefonknee (pronounced ‘Stef-on-knee’) Wolscht, 52, of Toronto, says she realized she was transgender - rather that simply a cross-dresser - at age 46, and split from her wife, Maria, after she told her husband to 'stop being trans or leave'.

Now, Stefonknee lives with friends who she calls her 'adoptive mommy and daddy' as a six-year-old girl, dressing in children's clothing and spending her time playing and coloring with her adoptive parents' grandchildren.

Big change: Stefoknee Wolscht, 52, of Canada, left her husband and seven kids to fulfill her true identity as a six-year-old girl. She previously lived as a mechanic and went by the name Paul 
Before: Paul was married to his wife and was a father to their seven kids for 23 years, until at age 46, he realized he was a woman. His wife told him to 'stop being trans or leave', so he left 
What a dreadful thing he has done to his poor children. I can't imagine what their lives are like now.

Stefonknee says her 'adoptive' family, which consists of an older couple and their children and young grandchildren, are completely accepting of her identifying as a little girl.

They must be as sick as he is.

She says she's living as a six-year-old girl because it's something she could never do when he was in grade school.

'I can’t deny I was married. I can’t deny I have children,' she says in the video. 'But I’ve moved forward now and I’ve gone back (no confusion there) to being a child. I don’t want to be an adult right now.' 

So, if I don't want to be a human right now, can I decide that I'm a cat or dog or butterfly? Or, if I was a 6 year old girl, could I decide that I'm a 70 year old grandfather? The whole concept is utterly ridiculous.

Stefonknee further adds: 'I have a mommy and a daddy - an adopted mommy and daddy - who are totally comfortable with me being a little girl. And their children and their grandchildren are totally supportive.'

She says she previously lived as an eight-year-old girl, until the couple's granddaughter asked her to be the younger sister instead.

'A year ago I was eight and she was seven. And she said to me: "I want you to be the little sister, so I’ll be nine." I said: "Well, I don’t mind going to six." So I’ve been six ever since.'

I wonder how far she can retrogress? It's frightening to think about.

In the winter, Stefonknee earns money by plowing snow, and when she's at home with her adoptive family, they color and 'do kid's stuff'. 

'It’s called play therapy. No medication, no suicide thoughts. And I just get to play,' she shares.

Challenges: Paul realized he was actually a woman, and changed his named to Stefoknee (pronounced ‘Stef-on-knee’). But she lost her job as a mechanic because she was trans, and soon became homeless
I can't imagine why a garage didn't want her as a mechanic?

Warning: I have not watched the video below, my stomach is not strong enough. Watch at your own risk.
Happy: Today, Stefonknee lives as a six-year-old girl with an adoptive 'mommy and daddy' (pictured) in Canada. She detailed her life's struggles in a video for Canada's Transgender Project 

Left - Embracing herself: She loves wearing make-up and little girl's clothing, but works in the winter plowing snow

In the video (above), Stefonknee talks of her reaction to her wife's ultimatum to 'stop being trans or leave', sharing: 'To me, "stop being trans" isn’t something I could do. It would be like telling me to stop being six-foot-two or leave.'

Stefonknee, who previously went by the name Paul, worked as a mechanic and was a dedicated member of the Catholic church, says she was trans before she got married to Maria after high school, but wasn't educated about what that meant, and was terrified of being different.

In a previous episode of The Transgender Project, Stefonknee said she first realized she was different from other boys as early as age six, because she was always jealous of the girls at school who got to wear new dresses on picture day.

Stefonknee, who then went by her given name Paul, began dating a woman named Maria in high school, and they later married. Maria was surprised by Paul's love of women's clothing, but was initially supportive, and even bought him an outfit.

'The next day, she bought me a black pleated skirt, a white blouse, and a grey camisole... so then I had an ally.'

But while Maria was supportive of her husband's cross-dressing, she did not accept him as transgender.

At age 44, after attending some transgender workshops in Toronto, he sat their their seven kids down and told them he was a woman.

And what a wonderful woman he was, doing that to his children! Good grief!

Right - Christmastime: Stefonknee can be seen cuddling a doll and sucks on a pacifier near a Christmas tree

He asked the kids to write him letters about their feelings, and read a letter from his son Peter aloud on The Transgender Project.

'Dear Dad, I feel it is very imbarassing [sic] to see you walk around like that. But if you rilly [sic] want it, it will be OK with me. Love, Peter,' read Stefonknee in the clip.

In letters from his other kids, they expressed that they were 'grossed out' about seeing him wearing dresses, and that he acted like their mother rather than their father.

'I was a trans parent for 23 years. It scared me, because I didn't know how to not be trans,' Stefonknee shared in the clip with The Daily Xtra.

But her wife refused to accept her, so she moved to Toronto to live as woman and began hormone replacement therapy in 2009.

Months later, she became suicidal and was hospitalized for a month after taking part in Toronto's first transgender rally.

She lost her job as a mechanic due to the fact that she was transgender, and was forced to sleep in a homeless shelter for months.

'I basically just lost all my customers. I [was] sleeping in a bed in a homeless shelter,' she revealed, adding that coming out as transgender was 'the hardest thing I've ever had to do.'

In 2012, her daughter Amanda invited her to her wedding, but only on the condition that she dress like a man and sit in the back of the church, not addressing any members of the family.

That day, she attempted suicide for the second time.

Fortunately (speak for yourself), Stefonknee has now found acceptance at Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto, where much of the congregation is made up of LGBT members who have formed a special support group just for her.

Asked why she wanted to share her story, Stefonknee shares on The Daily Xtra: 'I paid a pretty heavy price for transitioning. I've already lost everything, and everything has happened. I'm gonna be me, and I'm gonna show other people that it's OK to be feminine for a guy.' 

Your children also paid a pretty heavy price and will for the rest of their lives. 

She went on to reveal that a lot of unexpected people have come out to her as transgender since then, saying: 'When you see a guy that's 300 pounds with a goatee that pulls in on a Harley and is going through my closet and saying: "Can I wear this dress? Can I kiss you while I'm wearing the dress?" You don't expect it.'  

No kidding!!!

She also spends much of her time raising awareness for the transgender community and attending rallies.

'It's a fresh start,' says Stefonknee, adding: 'We have a quasi-family that we're creating. And I'm allowed to be exactly who I am.'

I have for years been saying that homosexuality, in its ultimate form, turns grown men into little girls. I never expected to see such a blatant and horrifying example of such. God help us.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Seattle's ‘Gun Violence Tax’ Defeats NRA Challenge in Court Ruling

Two shots at the NRA on one day
(See post below)
© George Frey / Reuters
Seattle, Washington is now the second city in the country with a “gun violence tax,” thanks to a judge’s ruling. 

The National Rifle Association and other gun rights organizations say it violates state law and are planning to appeal the decision.

King County Superior Court Judge Palmer Robinson called the city’s action a "lawful exercise of Seattle's taxing authority" on Tuesday, but the imminent appeal will argue it violates Washington state law that prohibits localities from legislating gun laws.

Sales of firearms and ammunition, in the meantime, will be taxed to generate funding for programs aimed to research and prevent gun violence. The Seattle City Council originally passed the law unanimously in August, with an aside that mandates gun owners notify authorities when firearms are lost or stolen.

There is a law against using federal funds for gun violence research? It's an incredibly asinine law that violates all common sense, decency, and sanity. It's only purpose is to prevent the public from knowing the depth of the violence caused by guns and the incredible ease with which one can access weapons in America. In keeping the public in the dark, arms merchants can continue to sell guns with neither restriction nor conscience regardless of the carnage. 

So, I applaud Seattle and Chicago for finding a way of funding gun violence research without using federal money.

"We are going to fight this vigorously in defense of a state preemption law that has served Washington citizens well for more than three decades," Alan Gottlieb, founder of the pro-gun rights group Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), told reporters.

"It is unconscionable for Mayor Ed Murray and the City Council to codify what amounts to social bigotry against firearms retailers and their customers," Gottlieb wrote in a statement.

The tax of $25 per gun and 2 to 5 cents on ammunition rounds will drive customers out to neighboring cities, hurting local businesses, critics of the city law say. City officials predict the taxes to raise as much as $500,000 annually.

Modeling the ordinance after what Cook County, Illinois and Chicago have adopted, Seattle City Council President and sponsor of the law Tim Burgess says it is a "legitimate and appropriate way to raise revenue for gun safety research and prevention programs,"

"Judge Robinson saw through the NRA's distorted efforts to put gun industry profits ahead of public safety," Burgess added.

In other words, he's a Democrat!

The NRA, SAF, and the National Shooting Sports Foundation joined with two gun owners and two local gun store owners to sue the City Council in August, referring to the city law as "a piece of propaganda."

"It’s unfortunate the court chose to ignore the law and embrace the Seattle City Council’s anti-gun agenda," Lars Dalseide, NRA spokesman, said in a statement.

According to Public Health-Seattle and King County, from 2006 to 2010 the average number of shooting deaths was 131, with 536 being hospitalized for gunshot wounds. Officials also noted that the medical treatment of 253 shooting victims at Harborview Medical Center in 2014 cost $17 million in total direct costs – and taxpayers were responsible for $12 million of it.

Virginia to Cancel Concealed Gun Permit Recognition with 25 States

© George Frey / Reuters
The state of Virginia will cease recognizing concealed-carry gun permits from 25 other states, as the state has determined they do not meet the Commonwealth's own standards for receiving a concealed handgun permit.

Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring announced the decision on Tuesday, saying that, following "months of research and evaluation" and outreach to other states, Virginia will continue recognizing concealed handgun permits of five of the 30 states that have concealed-carry laws that the Commonwealth previously considered valid within its borders. The new policy will go into effect on February 1, 2016.

Herring said 25 states had policies that didn't meet the standards of Virginia's own concealed-carry laws, which disqualify those receiving court-ordered mental health treatment or those subject to a restraining order, among 18 other restrictions.

“While you are here, you are subject to the commonwealth’s gun laws,” Herring said during a news conference announcing the policy.

The decision means more than 6.3 million non-Virginians who previously could carry concealed guns in the state will not be able to do so come February, according to the Washington Post. More than 400,000 Virginians, meanwhile, will not receive reciprocal recognition of their concealed-carry permits in six states, which require mutual recognition of permits.

The move is an effort by Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe's administration to take action to combat gun violence in the face of both Virginia's Republican-led legislature and other conservative state legislatures with concealed-carry laws that are less restrictive than Virginia's.

Virginia Republicans and advocates of loose gun laws panned the move as politically-motivated and detrimental to gun rights vested in the US Constitution's Second Amendment.

“This decision is both dangerous and shameful,” said Chris Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action. “At a time when people are scared and desperately need the ability to defend themselves, Herring has chosen the path of making self-defense harder.”

Virginia Democrats said the new policy is simply enforcement of the state's own gun rules.

“This action is a reflection of the law a conservative Republican legislature has crafted over the years,” said Sen. A. Donald McEachin. “And now, when the attorney general actually follows the law, conservative Republicans are squealing about it.”

Virginia canceled permit recognition with: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Virginia will continue to recognize permits from West Virginia, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah.

The six states that now will not recognize Virginia's concealed-carry permits are: Florida, Louisiana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Wyoming.

In November, Gov. McAuliffe's administration banned firearms in state-owned buildings. The move riled gun-rights advocates like the National Rifle Association, which is headquartered in Virginia. Given the state's "purple" mix of Democrats and Republicans, gun-law expert and UCLA law professor Adam Winkler dubbed Virginia "ground zero" in today's gun debate.

In fact, Democrat McAuliffe was voted into office in 2013 advocating universal background checks in a state previously known for being solidly Republican. McAuliffe amped up his effort to bar guns in state buildings after the August gun murder of two broadcast journalists in Roanoke, Virginia.

“There are many public facilities where people come to perform necessary acts of everyday life where the governor believes we should not wait for a tragedy to occur before we change our policies,” a McAuliffe spokesman said in November.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Kenyan Muslims Shield Christians in al-Shabab Bus Attack

From BBC Africa
Members of Somalia"s al-Shabab jihadist movement seen during exercises at their military training camp outside Mogadishu in 2008 Image copyright AP
Somali-based al-Shabab frequently launches attacks over the border in Kenya

A group of Kenyan Muslims travelling on a bus ambushed by Islamist gunmen protected Christian passengers by refusing to be split into groups, according to eyewitnesses.

They told the militants "to kill them together or leave them alone", a local governor told Kenyan media.

Courageous thing to do you guys. You're my heroes today. God bless you.

At least two people were killed in the attack, near the north-eastern village of El Wak on the Somali border.

The Somali based al-Shabab group says it carried out the attack. The group often carries out attacks in Kenya's north-east. The bus was travelling from the capital Nairobi to the town of Mandera.

When al-Shabab killed 148 people in an attack on Garissa University College in April, the militants reportedly singled out Christians and shot them, while freeing many Muslims.

Last year, a bus was attacked near Mandera by al-Shabab militants, who killed 28 non-Muslims travelling to Nairobi for the Christmas holidays.

"The locals showed a sense of patriotism and belonging to each other," Mandera governor Ali Roba told Kenya's private Daily Nation newspaper.

The militants decided to leave after the passengers' show of unity, he added.

Analysis: Bashkas Jugsodaay, BBC News, Nairobi

The passengers on the bus showed great bravery, but there was another quality revealed by their surprising decision to stand up to the gunmen: Frustration.

The majority of the local population in the north-east are Kenyan Muslims of Somali descent, and they have been hit hard by the consequences of al-Shabab attacks, even if non-Muslims are supposedly the main target of the Somali militant group.

An attack last year in Mandera, in which Christians were killed after being separated from Muslims, caused the departure of more than 2,000 teachers, as well as many health workers who had come from other parts of the country.

Perhaps the passengers felt that the region could simply not afford another such attack.

It will be interesting to see if their actions embolden local populations to increase their resistance to al-Shabab, which has attacked the area several times.

An employee of the Makkah bus company, who had spoken to the driver involved in the attack, confirmed to the BBC that Muslims had refused to be separated from their fellow Christian passengers.

One of the victims was shot dead after trying to run away from the militants after passengers had been forced off the bus, the same employee told the BBC's Bashkas Jugsodaay in Nairobi.

Al-Shabab has been at war with Kenya ever since Kenyan forces entered Somalia in October 2011 in an effort to crush the militants.

Kenya's north-eastern region has a large population of ethnic Somalis.

Al-Shabab attacks in Kenya
September 2013 - Al-Shabab militants seize the Westgate shopping mall in the capital Nairobi, killing 67 people.
June 2014 - At least 48 people die after Islamist militants attack hotels and a police station in Mpeketoni, near the island resort of Lamu.
November 2014 - The group targets a bus full of teachers in Mandera County, executing 28 non-Muslims at point-plank range.
December 2014- Al-Shabab kills 36 non-Muslim quarry workers near the north Kenyan town of Mandera.
April 2015 - Militants carry out a massacre at Garissa University College in north-east Kenya, killing 148 people.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Slovenians Reject Same-Sex Marriage in Referendum

Formerly part of Yugoslavia, Slovenia is one of Europe's most beautiful countries

© Jure Makovic, AFP | A Slovenian citizen casts a ballot on Dec. 20, 2015,
in a referendum on whether to allow the largely-Catholic state to become
Europe's first ex-communist country to allow same-sex marriage.

Slovenians rejected a same-sex marriage law by a large margin in a referendum on Sunday, according to preliminary referendum results.

The results released Sunday by authorities show 63 percent voted against a bill that defines marriage as a union of two adults, while 37 percent were in favor.

The results were incomplete, but were unlikely to change significantly in the final tally.

Parliament introduced marriage equality in March, but conservative groups, backed by the Catholic Church, pushed through a popular vote on the issue.

Although Slovenia is considered to be among the most liberal of the ex-communist nations, gay rights remain a contentious topic in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation of 2 million.

Voters in the former Yugoslav republic rejected granting more rights to gay couples in a referendum in 2012.

The Slovenia vote illustrates a cultural split within the European Union in which more established western members are rapidly granting new rights to gays, while eastern newcomers entrench conservative attitudes toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.


Just When You Thought the World Couldn't Get Much Stranger...

'Losers with women' stage anti-Christmas rally

BAH, HUMBUG!  Members of a group of men calling themselves “Losers with Women” march as they shout anti-Christmas slogans at Shibuya shopping district in Tokyo. AFP PHOTO

Japan - Anti-Christmas protesters calling themselves “Losers with Women” marched through Tokyo’s streets on Saturday, bashing the coming holiday as a capitalist ploy that also discriminates against singletons.

The group of about 20—part of the communist-inspired group that routinely protests Western holidays—marched under angry banners that read “Smash Christmas!” in Tokyo’s Shibuya district, where couples and families strolled for holiday shopping.

The scrooges—mostly single men—said they were against capitalism and were opposed to the commercialization of Christmas.

“In this world, money is extracted from people in love, and happy people support capitalism,” said the head of the organization, formally called Kakumeiteki Hi-mote Domei, or the Revolutionary Losers’ League.

“Christmas is the most symbolic event for this,” he added.

Shibuya district, Tokyo
The man, who identified himself only by the pseudonym MarkWater, said the rally was also in support of unloved men.

“Unpopular men, who don’t have a girlfriend or are not married, are overly discriminated. We want to break this barrier,” he told Agence France-Presse amid the shouting protesters.

In Japan, Christmas is not an official holiday and is mostly celebrated informally as a romantic event for couples, while New Year’s Day is an occasion for family reunion.

The Christian population remains small in the Asian country, stores offer special holiday sales and people decorate Christmas trees at home.

The group had held past marches to denounce imported Western holidays, including rallies against Valentine’s Day.

Great idea guys. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Swiss are Conducting 46 Criminal Cases Related to "Jihad Motivated" Terrorism

Swiss probe Muslim group member over Syria videos
I fear life in Europe will never be the same again
From BBC Europe
A Swiss border guard controls the area at the Bardonnex border
Switzerland remains on high alert following the terrorist attacks in Paris
Swiss authorities are investigating a leading figure in a prominent Muslim organisation on terror-related charges over videos made in Syria.

Prosecutors said the German suspect is a board member of the Islamic Central Council of Switzerland (ICCS).

He is suspected of using videos of his trips to Syria for propaganda purposes.

Switzerland remains on high alert following the terrorist attacks in Paris on 13 November that left 130 people dead.

Last week, the city of Geneva raised its security alert following a warning that a cell of so-called Islamic State (IS) was in the area.

Swiss prosecutors did not name the suspect, but the ICCS said - in a statement announcing a press conference for Monday morning in Berne - that Naim Cherni would be among those taking part, and would give his personal response to the allegations.

A statement from the Swiss attorney general's office said that criminal proceedings had been opened against the ICCS board member on suspicion of violating laws banning extremist groups such as al-Qaeda and IS.

The suspect is said to have produced videos of his trips to conflict zones in Syria for propaganda purposes.

The attorney general's office said the man was "accused of having interviewed a senior member of the jihad umbrella organisation Jaish al-Fatah, of which the Syrian al-Qaeda branch, Jabhat al-Nusra, (al-Nusra Front) is also a member".

It said he had made the video "without explicitly distancing himself from al-Qaeda activities in Syria".

The office indicated that the man had not been arrested.

Separately, a statement by the authorities also confirmed that charges had been filed against four Iraqi citizens, accused of preparing a terrorist attack.

In total, Swiss authorities say they are conducting 46 criminal cases related to "jihad motivated" terrorism.

Last week, President Simonetta Sommaruga said a "foreign authority" had warned of a possible IS cell in Geneva. Security was stepped up.

In a separate development, two Syrians were arrested on 12 December near the French border, with police saying that traces of explosives were found in their car.

IS said it carried out the attacks in Paris on 13 November. Two men linked to the attacks - Salah Abdeslam and Mohammed Abrini - are still on the run and investigations have been launched in several European countries.

Students Sing 'Allah Akbar' at Holiday Concert

By Todd Starnes   FoxNews.com

Nothing says Merry Christmas like a Ramadan song – at least in Blaine, Minnesota.

Blaine, Minnesota
There was a big controversy after Thursday’s holiday concert at the local high school – when the teenagers belted out a praise song to Allah.

I’m sure a number of Lutherans along with other Protestant parents spewed their egg nog when they heard their offspring singing, “Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar.

Television station WCCO first reported on the holiday dustup – quoting several moms and dads who were not all that happy their children were singing about the glories of Islam.

The school district said they have students from a number of different backgrounds and they try to promote equal opportunities for all students.

Check out some of the lyrics of “Eid un Sa’ Eid – Zain Bhika”:

“Ramadan has come and gone/Eid has dawned up us/Thank you Allah for this blessed day/This is a time of happiness, a time of joy/Thank you Allah for this blessed day.”

Throw in some banjos and a fiddle and I’m sure you’d have a real toe tapper.

Then then song breaks into some Arabic.

“It’s a time of brotherhood, a time of peace/Muslims are singing praises to Allah/Allahu Akbar/Allahu Akbar/”

Now it's true the youngsters also sang "Away in the Manger" and "Silent Night" and a few Jewish songs. But why are they singing a Ramadan song at Christmas time?

I know the lyrics say that Ramadan has come and gone. But in this case, Ramadan was last summer.

One parent told the television station considering recent events in Paris and San Bernardino - a song about Allah would be “insensitive.”

By the way – I don’t seem to recall any outrage from the ACLU or any of those perpetually offended atheist groups that break out in hives at the sound of a Christmas carol.

The Anoka – Hennepin School District is defending the Muslim melody.

They argued that the Islamic song that called on Muslims to “unite to worship Allah” is not really about worship.

“Songs are not performed in a worship setting or to promote religion,” the district said in a statement to WCCO. “But rather in (an) educational setting where students are learning and performing music.”

And besides, any student who did not feel comfortable singing it, was not required to do so.

The school district said they have students from a number of different backgrounds and they try to promote equal opportunities for all students.

Well in the spirit of equal opportunities -- I wonder which Christian songs they're going to croon during Ramadan? How about “Jesus Loves Me”?

Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. His latest book is "God Less America: Real Stories From the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values." Follow Todd on Twitter@ToddStarnes and find him on Facebook.

Perhaps the Anoka – Hennepin School District can be forgiven it's excessive sensitivity to the possibility of discrimination in light of the issues they had with bullying and suicide of gays a few years ago. From Wikipedia:

Between 2009 and 2011, nine students in Anoka-Hennepin committed suicide; the area is designated by state health officials as a "suicide contagion area." Many of these students were gay or perceived by their classmates to be gay, leading to bullying. The district is the subject of a federal investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education over the climate of anti-gay harassment and discrimination based on sex, including peer-on-peer harassment based on not conforming to gender stereotypes.

Friday, December 18, 2015

McConnell Firmly on the Dark Side - Destroying Democracy

Mitch McConnell sneaks provisions into budget bill to further enable ‘dark money’

Mitch McConnell
© Joshua Roberts / Reuters
The Senate’s majority leader buried provisions in the massive US$1.1 trillion end-of-the-year spending bill that will prevent watchdogs from investigating political spending of companies and imposing regulations on ‘dark money’ groups.

The new bill prevents the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from implementing any “order regarding the disclosure of political contributions, contributions to tax exempt organizations or dues paid to trade associations,” the bill says.

The IRS have also been targeted in the bill, and are now unable to issue a rule in 2016 regarding the level of nonprofit organizations political activity. Advocates for financial reform argue that the current system allows American elections to be bought by ‘dark money’ and ‘anonymous’ donors.

Indeed the current system has gutted democracy in America; it is all smoke and mirrors now. McConnell's unannounced, sneaky provisions will only serve to weaken democracy even further. I think POTUS should have refused to sign the bill and required the Senate to remain in session right through Christmas if necessary to clean this bill up.

I'm amazed at how quick and spirited Americans are in defending their right to bear arms and their right to keep America safe from militant Islam. And yet, they allow their democracy to be gutted, a far worse disaster, with hardly a word. Where are your priorities, people?

‘Dark money’ refers to the funds given to nonprofit organizations that can receive unlimited donations from corporations, individuals and unions, and spend their funds to influence elections, but are not required to disclose their donors.

McConnell has been a continuous advocate of unlimited secret campaign spending in Washington, often citing free speech as the reason.

The senior Kentucky senator’s own campaign has benefited from US$23 million of ‘dark money’ from independent groups like the National Rifle Association and the Nation Federation of Independent Business.

“Spending by organizations that do not disclose their donors has increased from less than US$5.2 million in 2006 to well over US$300 million in the 2012 presidential cycle and more than US$174 million in the 2014 midterms,” according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

For example, the Conservative Solutions Project has run more than 4,882 ads in support of Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio, and not a dime of its funding has been made public, reported Mother Jones.

The nonprofit organizations are, in theory, regulated by the IRS, but because of the new legislation McConnell introduced, the IRS can’t investigate the people or corporations who finance campaigns like Rubio’s run for presidency.

Historically, traditional political action committees (PACs) had strict limits on how much businesses, nonprofits and individuals could give. But a landmark 2010 Supreme Court ruling opened the door for unlimited amounts of cash to be donated to influence campaigns, because restricting this behavior would be akin to restricting what people can say, violating the First Amendment.

This isn’t the first move the majority leader has made to push his secret spending agenda. In last year’s budget he pushed through higher limits for campaign contributions to party organizations, making way for wealthy donors to give hundreds of thousands of dollars.

McConnell tried again to remove limits on how party committees spend money during this year’s budget negotiations, but stood down after he received heavy opposition from Democrats, some Republicans and campaign finance reformers, reported The Hill.

"We do feel good about what we did get and would love to have achieved more. And it's going to take a new president of a different party to achieve what we'd like to achieve,” McConnell said to the Associated Press when speaking about the bill.

And what is that, Senator. It seems you just want the richest man in the US to appoint the President. That's basically what you appear to be working toward.

At a 2010 DNC rally, President Obama said that special interest groups that pour money into attack ad campaigns without ever having to disclose their spending are “a threat to our democracy.” In July of this year, it was reported Obama was considering an executive order to require all federal contractors to disclose their dark money spending.

"The president is pleased with the final product, even if it does reflect the kind of compromise that's necessary when you have a Democratic president negotiating with large majorities of Republicans," said press secretary Josh Earnest after Obama signed off of the latest budget bill.

What on earth did they threaten him with? This is very disappointing. The most powerful country in the world will be run by a handful of unelected oligarchs whose only goal will be to get even more filthy rich regardless of the cost in lives and suffering.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Virginia County Closes Schools over Arabic Calligraphy Homework

© weaselzippers.us
The Augusta County School Board in Virginia ordered all public schools closed following a slew of complaints from parents outraged over a high school geography assignment that had their children practicing Arabic calligraphy.

Media coverage of the complaints created a backlash of phone calls and emails for Riverheads High School, and officials decided to close all public schools on Friday and increase police presence as a result.

“Following parental objections to the World Geography curriculum and ensuing related media coverage, the school division began receiving voluminous phone calls and electronic mail locally and from outside the area,” wrote the Augusta County School Board in a statement. “Based on concerns regarding the tone and content of those communications…schools and school offices will be closed on Friday, December 18, 2015.”

While the school board was non-specific about the calls and complaints, several tweets directed people to call the school and the teacher at the center of the controversy.

The outrage followed a school assignment in a world geography lesson last week about world religions, including Islam. Teacher Cheryl LaPonte gave students an assignment that involved practicing calligraphy and writing a Muslim statement of faith, also known as shahada. The statement translates as: “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” Students were also reportedly shown copies of the Koran.

According to News Leader, the local newspaper, recitation of the shahada is a “fundamental step in conversion to Islam.” Students were not asked to translate the statement or to recite it, and the exercise was within the Virginia Standards of Learning for the study of monotheistic world religions. Some students refused to complete the assignment, and some parents became outraged to the point that they wanted to pull their children out of the world geography class, the newspaper said.

Dozens of upset parents and students attended a forum at the Good News Ministries on Tuesday to express their opinions concerning the assignment. It was organized by Kimberly Herndon, a parent who has kept her nine-year-old son at home since ill-fated geography class.

“I will not have my child sit under a woman who indoctrinates them with the Islam religion when I am a Christian, and I’m going to stand behind Christ,” Herndon told WTVR.

Herndon said she will take the issue to the Supreme Court if necessary.

Augusta County resident and former English teacher Debbie Ballew told News Leader that there is a double standard amongst public schools and the public. She said that if she had asked her pupils to copy passages from the Bible, she would have been fired. More than one person at the forum called for the teacher’s termination.

Augusta County Superintendent Eric Bond sent a statement to News Leader explaining that when the students learn about a geographic region they also study its religion and written language. Students learn about Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism and Islam, among other faiths.

Bond said the assignment was meant to teach students “to demonstrate the complex artistry of the written language used in the Middle East, and were asked to attempt to copy it in order to give the students an idea of the artistic complexity of the calligraphy.”

Bond can't even bring himself to admit the teacher made a serious error in judgment; that, in itself, is a serious error in judgment. If he had, it might have settled this down a little. Christians should demand equal time by having the students write out the Apostle's Creed.

In the notice about the school closings, the Augusta County School Board said they appreciated parents bringing the problem to their attention.

“As we have emphasized, no lesson was designed to promote a religious viewpoint or change any student’s religious belief,” said the board. “Although students will continue to learn about world religions as required by the state Board of Education and the Commonwealth’s Standards of Learning, a different, non-religious sample of Arabic calligraphy will be used in the future.”

Germany Shuts Down Mosque Over ‘ISIS Sponsoring & Recruiting’

© Hannibal Hanschke / Reuters

German authorities have raided and shut down a mosque in Stuttgart on grounds of promoting violence and raising money for terrorist organizations such as Islamic State militants. Authorities said that some of its parishioners traveled to fight for IS to Syria.

Police raided a mosque and cultural center called the Islamic Educational and Cultural Center Mesdschid Sahabe (MSM) in the southwestern city of Stuttgart on Thursday. Computers, data storage devices, smartphones, documents were seized, while the center was closed, said Reinhold Gall, the interior minister of Baden-Wurttemberg state.

"The association supports, in the form of the so-called Islamic State, an Islamist group that carries out religiously-motivated attacks against persons and property," he said as quoted by AFP.

Known Salafists and fundamentalist Islamists most of them from western Balkans have been frequent visitors of the mosque, he added. Ten people have travelled to Syria to fight for IS after visiting the center while three of them have since died, he said.

"Through the association, donations have been collected for terrorist groups and fighters recruited for the conflict in Syria. In addition, the association and its members glorify jihad and religiously motivated terrorism," he said. "We do not tolerate associations that advocate the use of violence to promote religious concerns and collect donations for terrorist groups."

The mosque and center was previously raided by police in March to gather evidence.

New counter-terrorism force
On Wednesday, Germany introduced a new special unit consisting of some 250 officers to counter terrorism threat. "The danger in Germany from international terrorism is high, as it is across Europe," Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told reporters. "It was high, it is high, and it will remain high for the foreseeable future."

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, police arrested a prominent German extremist preacher Sven Lau on suspicion of supporting IS. Ralf Jaeger, North Rhine-Westphalia's interior minister, has described Lau as “one of the leading figures” among German Salafists. Lau is also known for organizing the so-called ‘Sharia police’ which was preaching Salafist morals outside casinos and bars in the city of Wuppertal. last year.

Since 2012, about 670 people have left Germany to join IS and other terrorist organizations in Syria and Iraq, according to figures provided by the Interior Ministry.

Turing Pharma CEO Martin Shkreli Arrested in Securities Probe

Drug company executive was vilified for dramatically boosting drug prices
The best news I've heard all day
CBC News 
Martin Shkreli, chief executive officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals, exits federal court in New York on Dec. 17, 2015. Shkreli was arrested on alleged securities fraud related to Retrophin Inc., a biotech firm he founded in 2011. (Louis Lanzano/Bloomberg)

Pharmaceutical entrepreneur Martin Shkreli, vilified for buying up drug companies and then dramatically boosting the prices of some medications, has been charged by the FBI with securities fraud related to his former hedge fund and a drug company he once ran. 

Shkreli, 32, currently the CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, was taken into custody at his New York City home Thursday. 

The case relates to his dealings at two firms, including Retrophin Inc., a biopharmaceutical company that he founded and used to head. Shkreli's arrest also stems from his time as manager of hedge fund MSMB Capital Management.

A seven-count indictment unsealed in Brooklyn Federal Court charged Shkreli with:

Conspiracy to commit securities fraud.
Conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Securities fraud. 

The indictment alleges Shkreli, among others, fraudulently induced people to invest in two separate funds, and misappropriated the assets of Retrophin to satisfy Shkreli's personal and unrelated professional debt obligations.

Shkreli "engaged in multiple schemes to ensnare investors through a web of lies and deceit," U.S. attorney Robert Capers said in a statement.

Retrophin sued Shkreli in August for $65 million US. The firm claimed Shkreli had used his control over Retrophin to enrich himself and pay off claims of investors in MSMB. Shkreli denied those allegations.

"Pride goes before a fall"
Increased drug price by 5,000%

The new allegations levelled at Shkreli on Thursday have nothing to do with the price-gouging accusations that turned him into a poster boy for corporate greed back in September.

Shkreli was widely vilified when he jacked up the price of Daraprim, a potentially life-saving anti-parasitic drug treatment, from $13.50 a pill to $750.

The drug is the only one that is approved for the treatment of toxoplasmosis, a disease that is most common among pregnant women, cancer patients and AIDS patients.

Faced with a firestorm of protest, he initially said his firm would lower the price. But Turing Pharmaceuticals later backed away from that promise.

It's pretty obvious what kind of character a person has when he holds sick people and government medical systems to ransom for the sake of personal gain. So it should not be surprising if he has no more regard for the law than he does for the welfare of the people who use his products.

With files from Reuters and The Associated Press